These recipes are middle-America mild, but we've kept the combination of non-hot spices and herbs that make the flavor uniquely Mexican, even though chiliheads consider mild Mexican food a bit like mariachi music played by a string quartet. Some like it hot; if you do, add more chili pepper.
MEXICAN-STYLE VEGETABLE SOUP
16-ounce can stewed sliced tomatoes
10-ounce can condensed chicken broth, fat-skimmed
4 cups water
1 red (or green) bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon chili powder (or more, much more, to taste)
Optional: 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
10-ounce package frozen cut corn
Optional: 6 tablespoons shredded sharp cheese
Combine ingredients, except corn and cheese. Simmer 15-20 minutes. Add corn and simmer just until heated through. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Makes six servings, 95 calories each (cheese adds 25 calories per serving).
Meal-size Mexican Chicken Soup: Stir in 2 cups diced, cooked, white meat chicken (or turkey). Simmer until heated through. Makes four main-course servings, 260 calories each.
1 pound beef flank steak
1/2 cup unsweetened lime juice (or lemon juice)
1 to 3 teaspoons chili powder (or more, to taste)
1 teaspoon dried garlic (or 4 cloves chopped fresh garlic)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Optional: salt and pepper to taste
Combine ingredients in a plastic bag placed in a bowl (to catch drips). Refrigerate 24 to 48 hours. Remove steak from marinade. Broil 2 to 3 inches
from heat source about 5 minutes each side. Slice very thinly against the grain. Makes four servings, under 170 calories each.
LOW FAT CHORIZO MEXICANA
3 pounds lean fat-trimmed pork, ground
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon liquid smoke seasoning
2 to 6 teaspoons chili powder (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon each cumin and coriander seed
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon each ground clove and cinnamon
Combine ingredients and mix well. Shape into 18 sausage-shaped oblongs or flat patties. Arrange in single layers on sheets of aluminum foil; wrap, label and freeze. Broil, bake or barbecue without thawing until thoroughly cooked. Each sausage is 120 calories.
Veal Chorizo:: Substitute raw ground lean veal for the pork. Each sausage is 115 calories.
9 chorizo ( 1/2 of the preceding recipe)
2 poblano chili peppers (or 1 bell pepper)
2 cups (16 ounces) Spanish-style tomato sauce
2 tablespoons minced cilantro (or parsley)
3 slices Cheddar-style diet cheese
Thaw chorizo, if frozen. Shape into 6 burgers. Mince peppers; discard stems and seeds. Mound a tablespoon or so of the minced pepper in the middle of each burger and press into the meat mixture. Combine tomato sauce and cilantro; spoon over burgers. Bake uncovered, basting occasionally, at 400 degrees, for 20 to 25 minutes, until completely cooked. Cut each slice of cheese in half diagonally, forming 6 triangles. Arrange a triangle of cheese over each burger just before serving. Makes 6 servings, 215 calories each with pork; 210 calories each with veal.